Carlos Coste has created a new Guinness world record for freediving, after swimming 150 metres through a cave using no apparatus.
The Venezuelan was armed with only a torch and a monofin – a single giant flipper worn on both feet – when he made the death-defying dive on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old soared through a passage inside Dos Ojos, a colossal cave network that twists for 31 miles under Yucatan, Mexico.
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Record-breaker: Freediver Carlos Coste set a new Guinness world record by swimming 150 metres through a cave while holding his breath and using no breathing apparatus
Caught on camera by British underwater photographer Dan Burton, Mr Coste, from Caracas, has pioneered a new kind of record by taking the world of freediving into the underwater caves.
While only swimming at a depth of around seven metres, the record attempt could have killed the freediver as he swam through the cave while holding his breath.
Becoming trapped in the winding rocky passage could have been fatal.
Beginning at the surface, he dropped into a selected tunnel of the underwater system.
Using special swimming techniques he has honed to perfection over 12 years of freediving, he optimised strength, speed and energy conservation.
He said: ‘I have been doing competitive diving for ten years and this is by far the most bizarre run I have ever made.
Risking his life: Venezuelan Carlos Coste swam through the rocky passage at a depth of seven metres using a technique he has perfected in a dozen years of freediving
‘To achieve this is a dream come true for me. I have been interested in speleology (the study of caves) since I was a little boy and to combine this with my profession as a freediver was amazing.
‘I was not scared about it. We have planned this for a long time and I was fully prepared for what I had to do.
‘If something had gone wrong then there were emergency divers on hand.
‘They didn’t have a spare air supply down there for me. At critical times like that it would simply have been about getting me to the surface as quickly as possible.’
Mr Coste, who can hold his breath for seven minutes, completed his spectacular run in just two minutes and 30 seconds, emerging victorious at the other end of the chosen passage.
Speedy Gonzalez: Carlos Coste completed the run in just two minutes and 30 seconds but he can hold his breath for up to seven minutes
A rope that was laid before he began the attempt showed him the route. But in pitch darkness he needed to hold a torch in one hand so he could see it.
‘It’s not about speed,’ he continued. ‘It’s about striking a balance between many factors.
‘With monofins you can achieve the fastest speeds possible but for something like this you don’t want to be frantically kicking your way through the cave.
‘Inertia, displacement and modality are all massive factors and the optimal technique that has been perfected is to make two kicks, then glide, two kicks, then glide. You need to be in the best hydrodynamic position.
‘It really feels like you are flying through the cave and you have to adopt a position like Superman with your arms stretched out in front of you.
‘The adrenaline brings a massive rush. It makes me feel amazing to be involved in things like this.’
Success: Carlos Coste proudly poses after his death-defying world record attempt – which he has spent three years planning with his wife
Planned meticulously by his wife and manager Gabriela Contreras, 45, the extreme attempt has been three years in the making.
The pair selected the chosen tunnel a year ago and have since been preparing him for the attempt.
‘This hasn’t been done before,’ Mr Coste added. ‘But Guinness said I would need to make at least 75 metres to have a world record.
‘I doubled that so I hope they are satisfied that this should go into the books.’